Adult Acne – Types, Causes, Treatments

Oh, how we wish that as we turn 21, acne left us behind, forever. FOREVER. Sadly, it doesn’t and is audaciously accompanied with wrinkles. Coming to terms with adult acne isn’t easy, but rest assured, because you aren’t the only one dealing with it. If you had acne in your teen years, you might have oily skin that’s prone to breakouts, and even if you didn’t have acne then, there’s still a chance that you will get acne into your adulthood. During this time, you tend to get acne on the lower face, along the jawline and neck, whereas, in your teen, acne usually takes place on the cheeks and forehead. You may get acne when your pores get clogged with bacteria, skin cells and oil. Some of the primary causes of acne are-

  1. Hormonal Imbalance

The main cause of adult acne could be an imbalance in your hormones, especially before the onset of the menstrual cycle. Women’s hormones also fluctuate during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause.

  1. Discontinuation of Birth-Control Pills

An acne flare may occur in most women when they stop taking birth control pills. These pills are regulators of hormones and thus, they prevent acne. So, once stopped, they can ultimately lead to a hormone imbalance and eventually, a breakout.

  1. Hereditary

Acne during adulthood can also be a result of your heredity. Studies show that 50% people who suffered from acne had a parent or first-degree relative, suffering from the condition as well.

  1. Stress

Women today juggle with both personal and professional lives. With that, their stress levels tend to be high, most of the time. To deal with this stress, our body produces a hormone called cortisol. With it, a little amount of testosterone is released as well. This male hormone can drive the oil glands to produce more oil and lead to breakouts.

  1. Use of Wrong Products

Oil-based products like sunscreen and moisturizers may result in a particular type of acne called “acne cosmetica”. Therefore, people with oily or acne prone skin should opt for products labeled as “oil-free”, “non-comedogenic” or “water-based”.

  1. Over-cleansing

Avoid over-cleansing your skin as it may strip your skin of the essential oil. As this oil is reduced, the skin generates an extra amount of it, leading to breakouts.

  1. Sugar

Sugar makes your insulin levels rise and boosts oil-triggering hormones, which leads to acne. Switch to healthier options that will satisfy your sweet tooth, like fruits and honey instead of refined sugars.


Adult acne can be of different types.

  1. Papule – The most common type of acne, which we call a pimple or zit is the red bump that keeps appearing. It may open when scratched and become infected and crusty.
  1. Pustule – Pustules are small bumps that are filled with pus or fluid and look very similar to pimples, but they may grow bigger in size. Pustules usually occur on any parts of the body, but may also occur on the face, chest and back.
  1. Nodule – A huge, lumpy, pus-filled pimple is called a nodule. It sits deep in the skin and is often characterized by inflammation. It leaves scars and is very painful.
  2. Cyst – A sac-like lesion that is filled with a liquid or semi-liquid substance is called a cyst. It contains dead white blood cells and bacteria that is infectious. It is extremely painful and inflamed, like a nodule and it leaves behind scars and blemishes. Like a nodule, a cyst is generally unresponsive to most over-the-counter and oral acne treatments. These two usually occur together, in a severe breakout which is called nodulocystic.


Here are some effective treatments for adult acne-

  1. Topical treatments

The best way to get rid of acne is to use products that have salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, glycolic acid, and retinol.

> Salicylic acid works by unclogging the pores that give birth to these bacteria.

> Benzoyl peroxide kills acne bacteria and exfoliates the pores, but avoid using too much as it can also make your skin dry and irritated.

> Sulfur is a great spot treatment option, it functions like a sponge and draw oil from blocked pores and kills acne bacteria. It works great if you have moderate or mild acne.

> Glycolic acid is an exfoliating ingredient that targets acne as well as wrinkles, by removing dead cells on the surface.

> Retinol can be harsh on the skin, but it prevents dead cells from clogging pores and reducing acne outbreaks. It is also a good anti-aging ingredient.

  1. Exfoliate

Regular exfoliation is the most important thing you can do to fight acne in terms of prevention and treatment. It helps in reducing the amount of dead cells build-up on the skin.

  1. Spot Treatments

In addition to cleansing and exfoliating, also use a spot treatment to apply on the affected areas, it will provide better results.

  1. Never pick at your acne

No matter what happens, never pick on your pimples or cysts as it will only make matters worse. If possible, avoid touching your face throughout the day as your hands might carry bacteria and this could lead to a breakout.

  1. Visit a Dermatologist

If nothing works for you, visit a dermatologist and get your acne checked. He might suggest you suitable treatments and prescribe medicines to help you get rid of acne.

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